Watching Keanu Reeves (in Johnny Mnemonic) typing in the air using his ultra-futuristic gloves fascinated me a lot. When the folks over at Tap reached us to test their Tap Strap 2, my fascination turned into a reality.
Tap Strap 2 is a unique device that you can wear on your hand. It functions both as a mouse and a keyboard and also provides the ability of utilizing AirMouse gestures.
What is Trap Strap 2?
The Tap Strap 2 is a wearable mouse and keyboard combo. It has five rings, one for each finger of your hand. Each ring has a tiny accelerometer that senses your finger striking against a surface or when moved quickly. Fingers when tapped in certain combinations (like playing the piano) communicate desired mouse and keyboard inputs. Tap Strap 2 also comes with a customization tool in the form of an application, TapMapper, which allows customization of the keystrokes.
The Tap Strap 2 is sleek, minimalistic and elegant in design. It has five silicone rings attached together by a single black strap. Each ring has a metallic oval on top of it. The thumb ring has a larger metallic oval, and the on/off and pairing button, LED indicator and charging contacts reside in it. A haptic motor is also present in the thumb ring for feedback purposes. The side of the thumb ring also houses the sensors for mouse and AirMouse gestures.
The LED indicator and the vibrations indicate various things like pairing mode, and the device’s battery level. Along with the Tap Strap 2, the box contains the charging case and a micro USB cable. The charging case has a premium feel to it. It looks like the case of a premium pair of sunglasses with a rectangular window to peep inside.
The charging case has five magnetic docks onto which you slip these rings. The thumb ring has the charging contacts to connect the Tap Strap 2 to the charging dock. A button on the side of the charging dock acts as the charging button. The battery of the Tap Strap 2 lasts for about 8 hours, and with the charging case, it stretches to about 64 hours.
The Tap Strap 2 connects to your device using Bluetooth. After the pairing, the Tap Strap 2 can be connected with the TapManager app to configure the settings. Also, the TapManager app upgraded my Tap Strap 2 automatically, upon connecting.
The TapManager app lets you wear The Tap Strap 2 in either right or left hand. Wearing the device on any of the hands doesn’t make a difference, except for using the AirMouse gestures.
There are a bunch of other settings like using The Tap Strap 2 as a mouse, a keyboard or both.
Learning The Tap Strap 2
Learning to use the Tap Strap 2 is very similar to learning the piano. The Tap Strap 2 doesn’t work like a QWERTY keyboard, but rather it works through combinations of finger taps. For example, tapping one finger at a time, from your thumb to your pinky, will type the vowels A, E, I, O and U. Different letters require different tapping patterns. Another example, tapping two fingers together from your thumb and your pinky, will type the letters N, T, L and S.
It may seem a very difficult task to learn a whole new keyboard, but Tap Strap 2 supports a bunch of apps that make the entire process easy and fun. The most effective app is TapGenius. The app guides you through each gesture and uses a game-like interface which makes learning a rather fun experience.
In the beginning, I found the key bindings a bit challenging. It was hard to adjust my fingers to the required position. I often mistyped . But with practice, I learned it much quicker than I had anticipated. After practising for several hours of practice , I was able to re-type this review at a rate of around 30 words per minute.
To enter the mouse mode, rest your hand on the surface as if using a traditional mouse. Tap the index finger for left-click, and tap the right finger for the right-click. The thumb finger ring has the cursor tracking sensor. The TapGenius app helps you to precisely use the mouse through a game of tapping the bubbles before they disappear.
To enter the gesture mode, hold your hand in the pointing position till the device vibrates. You can now use motions to left-click, right-click, scroll and more.
Tap Strap 2 as a Keyboard
As I am new to Tap Strap 2, my accuracy isn’t that great, but the auto-correct comes to my rescue. But I am not surprised by it, as tapping is a masterful skill and with enough practise you can get better at almost anything.
Another problem that I faced with the device is fatigue. Unlike a traditional QWERTY keyboard, Tap suggests you to keep your wrist up, leaving your fingers hanging down. This causes some arm fatigue after long sessions of typing.
A few other things that I missed using Tap includes the keyboard shortcuts/gestures for copy, paste, undo and more.
Tap Strap 2 as a Mouse
As a mouse, Tap works pretty well. You need to keep your hand on the surface and make sure that your thumb is flat on the surface, keeping the cursor sensor flat on the surface.
The major caveat is that the drag and drop feature didn’t work perfectly for me. Also, the scrolling didn’t feel natural to me.
Tap Strap 2 AirMouse gestures
Using your iPhone or iPad without touching it sounds something like magic, isn’t it? The Tap Strap 2 has made it possible for you via its AirMouse gestures.
After watching the tutorial of AirMouse gestures on Youtube, I was pretty excited. But using the feature for a while disappointed me. Even after practising the AirMouse gestures for a while, I couldn’t get it to work half of the time. For such a neat feature, I wished that it could have been a bit more polished.
Who is the Tap Strap 2 for?
Keeping aside the coolness factor, the Tap Strap 2 isn’t the ideal keyboard and mouse for everyone. For a person who types a lot, the Tap Strap 2 can be limiting at times. Its lack of function and quick command keys makes it less convenient.
When it comes to accessibility Tap shines, as it only requires one hand to type. Dedicated iPad users may find Tap appealing, as it is more portable than a Bluetooth keyboard. Also, the AirMouse gestures come in handy in a presentation.
The tap can be a pretty decent keyboard for your iPhone, as it helps you to get rid of the on-screen keyboard. Also, the AirMouse gestures can help you operate your iPhone or iPad without touching it.
Also, Tap Strap 2 can be the best possible keyboard for the VR/AR headsets.
Tap Strap 2 is truly an ice-breaker conversation starter. The Tap is an excellent tool that needs a little bit more refining before I can comfortably recommend it to everyone. Also, the price tag of $199 shrinks the market for this cool device.
If you are someone who loves tech and can afford it, then definitely go for the Tap Strap 2. You’ll enjoy the experience of using a whole new type of keyboard and mouse. Also, if you need a keyboard and mouse for your Smart TV or your VR/AR headset then, you can definitely go for the Tap Strap 2.
Wait! Here’s Something More
Tap Strap 2 vs The Magic Keyboard
I have been using the Magic Keyboard with my 11″ iPad Pro 2020 for almost a year, and I have no second thoughts in claiming it the best keyboard and trackpad combo in the market. The Magic Keyboard has the beloved scissor-keys and a trackpad which is as good as the MacBooks’ trackpads. In short, the Magic Keyboard is the best keyboard that you can ask for the iPad Pro.
The Keyboard and Mouse combo type of input devices are a rare species for the iPad Pro. So, it became almost imperative for us to compare the Tap Strap 2 with the big guy.
The Magic Keyboard starting at $299, is the perfect all-rounder keyboard for the iPad Pro. But as many people don’t use the iPad Pro as their main device, spending $299 (or $ 349 for a 13″ model) may not seem practical. It is where the Tap Strap 2 comes into the picture.
The Tap Strap 2 starts at a price tag of $199 (currently on discount, at $149) can be a perfect device for people looking for a cheaper Magic Keyboard alternative. The Tap Strap 2 can be an excellent option for people using their iPad Pros as a secondary device.
The iPad Pro attached with the Magic Keyboard can weigh up to 3 pounds (1362 grams) which is roughly equal to the weight of a 13″ MacBook Pro (3.1 pounds). While the Tap Strap 2 weighs only 13.6 grams.
So, the Tap Strap 2 is a more sensible choice if bulk is your concern.
Also, imagine pulling out the iPad Pro and the Tap Strap 2 in a coffee shop will look so cool.
Liked this piece? Also read, How I Used My 9 Year Old iPad as a Secondary Display for Windows 10 PC for Free.
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